The revised version of New York’s comprehensive cannabis legislation legalizing recreational cannabis and expanding New York’s medical cannabis program has (finally) been released. The revised legislation, still known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), is expected to be more similar to the original version of the MRTA than Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legalization plan. The MRTA is expected to be voted on in the next week.
Before jumping into the MRTA on your own, there are two important precautions you should take:
- The MRTA is not yet law. Although it is widely expected that the MRTA will be passed in a short period of time, our summary is based on the proposed final bill. However, it is unlikely that any further changes will be made prior to the handover.
- The actual application process for potential licensees has not yet been published. With this in mind, the MRTA provides a good indication of what is considered when evaluating license applications. As detailed below, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and Office of Cannabis Management will be established after the MRTA is passed and will be responsible for creating and implementing a license application process under the MRTA.
Let’s get to the actual provisions of the MRTA, which cover everything from legalizing adult cannabis to allocating cannabis-driven tax revenue to social justice programs. Some highlights:
Setting up the Cannabis Control Board: The CCB will be responsible for all aspects of cannabis regulation, including licensing, licensing terms and requirements, and general oversight of the industry. The CCB will consist of a five-person board of directors, with the governor appointing three members and the assembly and senate each appointing one member.
Legalization of cannabis for adults: The sale and use of recreational cannabis is legal for adults aged 21 and over. The MRTA eliminates penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis and allows records to be deleted for individuals convicted of illegal activities that are no longer criminalized.
The MRTA also allows the delivery of cannabis and “consumption points” where marijuana can be consumed. Towns and villages will have the option of not having retail pharmacies or consumption points in their respective jurisdictions by the end of the year.
Identifying the types of licenses for adult cannabis: The CCB will issue separate licenses for producers, wholesalers, retailers and local consumption. Vertical integration is generally prohibited as licensees are limited to a single license. The exception here are micro-enterprises, which can use a vertically integrated model.
Creating a Social Justice Program: The MRTA aims to give 50% of its distribution and retail licenses to social justice applicants. The applicant’s definition of “social justice” includes people with previous marijuana beliefs or loved ones with such records, people living in economically deprived areas or in places where cannabis criminalization has been discriminated against, people with an income less than eighty percent (80%) of the median income of the county in which the individual lives, minority and women-owned businesses, disabled veterans, and financially disadvantaged farmers.
General criteria for applicants: Although the CCB is responsible for establishing the specific criteria for potential applicants, the MRTA contains the following criteria that the CCB can “consider”:
- Whether the applicant is a social and economic justice applicant.
- The applicant’s ability to demonstrate effective controls against the illegal diversion of cannabis.
- The applicant’s ability to comply with applicable state laws and regulations.
- The ability of the applicant and his officials to properly carry out the activities for which a license is sought, including, where appropriate, with the support of the Social and Economic Justice Program and Business Incubators.
- Whether the applicant has or has leased sufficient land, buildings and equipment to carry out the activities described in the application, or whether they are planning to do so if they qualify as a social and economic justice applicant.
- If it is a non-social and economic justice claimant, whether that claimant is making a plan for the benefit of communities and people disproportionately affected by cannabis law enforcement.
- Whether it is in the public interest that the applicant be granted a license.
- Whether the applicant and its directors are of good moral character and have no ownership or control of more licenses or permits than permitted by the MRTA.
- Whether the applicant has concluded a collective agreement.
- The applicant’s contribution to communities and people disproportionately harmed by enforcement of cannabis laws.
- For applicants of cultivators or processors for adults, the environmental and energy effects of the facility to be licensed are important.
New York Medical Cannabis Program Expansion: The authorization for patient certification is extended to the effect that only the patient’s doctor has to determine, “according to the professional opinion of the doctor and the review of previous treatments, [that] It is likely that the patient will receive therapeutic or palliative benefits from primary or additional medicinal use of cannabis for the disease. “Qualified patients can now also receive 60-day care.
After all, the above is just a general overview of the MRTA and some (but certainly not all) of the notable provisions. In the next few weeks, we will provide detailed summaries of the individual components of the MRTA and the license application process as information becomes available.
We’ll do all of that from here in New York. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.